Top 10 Ho-Ho-Holiday Activities in OC


Claire Seo

One of the many extravagantly decorated houses in the Eagle Hills Christmas Lights neighborhood. The Wildcat compiles the top 10 holiday activities to enjoy in Orange County during winter vacation.

Christmas time is famously known for joy, peace, celebration, community, presents, and, unfortunately, for holiday-related stress. So carve out some time to de-stress and get into the holiday spirit by checking out these local winter activities happening right in our Orange County backyard. (Click the red links for addresses.)

Magic of Lights at Angel Stadium

Until Dec. 26, Angel Stadium is transformed into a “winter wonderland” with a drive-thru light display every Saturday and Sunday. This Magic of Lights event is perfect for the whole family, with tickets ranging from $25 to$45 per vehicle. Pack up the car with blankets, reindeer headbands, and snacks, and head to Angels Stadium to experience this unique holiday lights experience.

Eagle Hills Christmas Lights

For a quick, easy, and free holiday event, head to the Eagle Hills neighborhood (located on the cross-streets of E Birch Street and Starflower Street) for a holiday light show, conveniently just five minutes from BOHS. Grab some hot chocolate and follow Santa’s Route in your car, or park on the designated side of the street to bundle up and walk around to view the neighborhood decked out in holiday decorations and lights. 

Skating Under the Stars at the Irvine Spectrum

For the ultimate winter experience, head to Irvine Spectrum to skate under the stars for just $25. This extremely popular holiday attraction is available starting at 3 p.m. every day and lasts until Jan. 2. Get to the Irvine Spectrum for a unique SoCal winter experience (and for an opportunity to finish up any holiday shopping). 

Holidays at South Coast Plaza

Still have last-minute shopping to get done? Look no further as South Coast Plaza is the perfect mall to buy all of those rushed presents. The mall provides an elegant holiday ambiance, with three beautifully decorated Christmas trees scattered throughout the mall. The mall also provides holiday fun with photos with Santa and Santa’s Express Train. While holiday shopping can be stressful, South Coast Plaza makes it enjoyable quintessentially Christmasy. 

Light of the World Christmas lights at Saddleback 

Gather holiday hats, beanies, gloves, light-up necklaces, and blankets and get cozy for the ultimate Christmas light experience to see the “Christmas Village” light show and music spectacular, put on by Saddleback Church in Lake Forest. At this event, first up is the telling of the Christmas story; followed by a walk-thru Christmas light experience for all to enjoy; and finally, a “snow” shower that rains down on each car. Free reserved tickets are required for this event, and free hot chocolate is offered to everyone before the Christmas Village experience begins, which you can enjoy under the twinkling lights. 

Christmas Tree in the Sand 

Every winter season at the beginning of December, the iconic Beachcomber Cafe — located along the sand at Crystal Cove in Newport Beach — sets up a giant, festive Christmas tree adorned with twinkling lights, beach-themed ornaments, and dazzling star on top. This tree is located directly on the sand, where it’s perfect for beach-themed holiday photos for groups of friends or families. This tree is right across from The Beachcomber, located ideally for cute holiday fun and a delectable meal to follow. 

Dana Point Harbor Ambience 

The identifiable “Merry Kiss Me” sign hung at the Dana Point Harbor down in Dana Point may have appeared across your social media platforms at some point in years’ past. Take a drive down the 5 to Dana Point to see the annual magical holiday light exhibit, featuring a giant whale sculpture, giant Christmas trees, lighted palm trees, Candy Cane Lane, and of course, the “Merry Kiss Me” sign to take some memorable holiday photos.

Holiday Snowland in Costa Mesa

On Dec. 18, Balearic Park in Costa Mesa will go from being a well-visited family park to an extravagant winter wonderland, sponsored by Torelli for the past 25 years. About 40 tons of snow will be dropped off and scattered across the park for a southern California ‘white Christmas,’ attended annually by over 1,000 people. 

Theme Park Magic

From November through January, experience holiday magic at local theme parks Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm (creatively renamed Knott’s Merry Farm for the next two months) are decked out with holiday parades, new and tasty food options, holiday fireworks, Christmas-decorated rides and attractions, and shows with carolers and characters alike. Get tickets soon to maximize the merry season with all of the joy-filled events happening at these local theme parks. 

Newport Beach Boat Parade

For over 100 years, the Newport Beach Boat Parade has provided holiday fun for Orange County residents of all ages. This parade is viewed by nearly two million people every year, with extravagantly decorated boats. View the boat parade from afar starting on Dec. 15 through Dec. 19 or even better, hop on a $32 cruise for 75-minutes. Public parking is available.